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E05809: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, quotes a 5th c. Latin inscription in honour of *John the Baptist (S00020) from the Church of the Holy Cross in Ravenna (northern Italy); written in Ravenna in 830/846.

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posted on 2018-06-19, 00:00 authored by frances
Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 41

Galla uero augusta aedificauit ecclesiam sanctae Crucis, preciosissimis lapidibus structam et gipsea metalla sculpta; et in rotunditate arcus uersus metricos continentes ita: 

Christum fonte lauat paradisi in sede Iohannes, 
Quo uitam tribuit felicem, martirem monstrat. 

‘The Empress Galla built the church of the Holy Cross, constructed of the most precious stones and with carved stucco; and in the roundness of the arches there are metrical verses reading thus:

John washes Christ at the font in the seat of paradise; where he gives a happy life, he points the way to martyrdom.’

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.

History

Evidence ID

E05809

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements

Language

  • Latin

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

846

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

500

Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ravenna

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

Cult activities - Places

Descriptions of cult places

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Inscription

Source

Agnellus of Ravenna (ob. c. 846) was a deacon of the cathedral in Ravenna and – by hereditary right – abbot of two monasteries in Ravenna. He wrote his Liber Pontificalis Ecclessiae Ravennatis between 830 and 846, following the model of the Roman Liber Pontificalis. This work provides biographies of all the bishops of Ravenna from the legendary founder bishop Apollinaris to those active in Agnellus’ own day, and was originally composed to be delivered orally, most likely to clerics of Ravenna. This text is preserved in two manuscripts: one from the 15th c. (Bibliotec Estense Cod. Lat. 371 X.P.4.9.) and a fragmentary manuscript from the 16th c. (MS Vat. Lat. 5834). Agnellus bases his account of the lives of late antique bishops on documents preserved in Ravenna, stories which had been transmitted orally, and his own experience of the architectural landscape of 9th c. Ravenna. Agnellus' work contains invaluable architectural and art historical information about Ravenna: Agnellus refers to several religious buildings in Ravenna and the neighbouring settlements of Caeserea and Classe. He describes their decoration and preserves several inscriptions, many of which are now lost to us. It must be remembered this is a 9th c. work. Agnellus’ descriptions of buildings and their fixtures is based on his 9th c. experience, and not late antique reality. Indeed, his accounts of the events of earlier years are often riddled with inaccuracies. Yet it is likely that his descriptions of the churches of Ravenna are more trustworthy. As Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis argues, a comparison of surviving late antique mosaics with Agnellus’ account suggests that his descriptions were largely accurate. This is limited to what he does tell us – for example Arian foundations are often ignored whilst orthodox foundations are emphasised. Yet, overall, this text provides invaluable information about the cult of saints in late antique Ravenna.

Discussion

Maps showing the likely locations of the foundations in Classe and Ravenna are attached to this record.

Bibliography

Text: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Agnelli Ravennatis Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 199; Turnhout, 2006). Translation: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna (Washington D.C., 2004). Further Reading: Deichmann, Friedrich Wilhelm, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, vol. 1-3, (Wiesbaden, 1958-89). Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010). Mackie, Gillian, Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function and Patronage (Toronto, 2003). Moffat, Ann, "Sixth Century Ravenna from the Perspective of Abbot Agnellus," in: P. Allen and E.M. Jeffreys (eds,), The Sixth Century – End or Beginning? (Brisbane, 1996), 236-246. Morini, E., "Le strutture monastische a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.2, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 305-312. Schoolman, Edward, Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy: Hagiography and the Late Antique Past in Medieval Ravenna (Basingstoke, 2016). Stansterre, J. M., "Monaci e monastery greci a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.1, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 323-329. Verhoeven, Mariëtte, The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna: Transformations and Memory (Turnhout, 2011).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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